Hearing Impairment

What is Hearing Impairment?

The term “hearing impaired” encompasses anyone who for any reason has a hearing loss which interferes with the normal reception and understanding of speech and sound. This hearing loss is measured in units called decibels (dB), a measurement which only reflects the physical energy or the sound which must be present for the individual to be able to hear.

The fact that a person cannot hear does not necessarily mean he cannot speak. A deaf person will naturally have difficulties in expressing himself through verbal communication and may tend to remain silent. It is thus inappropriate to use the general term ‘deaf and dumb’ to describe someone who is only hearing-impaired.

“Relating to the Hearing Impaired”

  • Making Conversation
    • Use “deaf”, “hard of hearing” or “hearing impaired”; avoid “deaf mute” or “deaf and dumb”
    • Include the deaf person in your conversation with hearing persons
    • Talk to the deaf person face to face and not through the interpreter
    • Use simple words and talk at a reasonable speed. A pen and writing pad can help
  • Listening & Responding
    • Try to sign if you can when there is a deaf person in your midst
    • Indicate if you don’t understand something; don’t pretend you do when you really don’t
    • Refrain from correcting a deaf person’s language, unless he asks for help
    • If you laugh in front of a deaf person, tell him the reason for laughing so he doesn’t think you are laughing at him

Deafness and varied degrees of hearing impairment are caused by birth defects, disease, accidents, ageing, childhood disease (infection of the brain, measles, high fever). Deafness can be hereditary, but this is uncommon. Most deaf couples wil give birth to children who can hear well.

“Facts on Hearing Loss”

  • 5% of the world’s population or 360 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss
  • Hearing loss may be inherited, caused by maternal rubella or complications at birth, certain infectious diseases such as meningitis, chronic ear infections, use of ototoxic drugs, exposure to excessive noise and ageing
  • Half of all cases of hearing loss are avoidable through primary prevention
  • People with hearing loss can benefit from devices such as hearing aids, assistive devices and cochlear implants, and from captioning, sign language training, educational and social support

Source: World Health Organisation Fact Sheet on Deafness and Hearing Loss (Feb 2013)

Updates on Hearing Impairment